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How To Do Thanksgiving On A $50 Budget

Here's a menu for eight people that costs $54. That's $6.75 per person, which — most importantly — leaves plenty of money for wine and whiskey.


Brown Sugar– and Mustard-Glazed Turkey

Mushroom and Challah Stuffing

Easy Mashed Potatoes

Kale and Toasted Almond Salad

Orange-Thyme Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pie with Brown Butter Streusel

Recipes by Teri Tsang Barrett


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Serves 8

2 onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

8 sprigs thyme, cut into 1-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

One 10- to 12-pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry (**neck and giblets reserved for turkey stock)

3 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup Dijon mustard

**If not making the turkey stock for the stuffing, add the neck and giblets to the roasting pan. See note below in the recipe procedure.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400˚F. In a bowl, combine the room-temperature butter with about a Tbsp. of kosher salt and mix together to make a paste. (If possible, make this paste the night before, rub on turkey, and let sit overnight.) In a separate bowl, combine the onions, celery, thyme, 1 tsp salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Fill the turkey cavity with half of the onion mixture, then scatter the remaining onion mixture in the bottom of a large heavy-duty roasting pan. Place a rack on top of the onion mixture.

Loosen the skin over the turkey breasts by reaching your hand into the neck opening and carefully stretching the skin up and away from the breast without tearing it.

Rub 1 tsp butter/salt paste onto the turkey breasts under the skin. Then rub the remaining paste all over the rest of the bird; season with pepper.

Position the turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack; tie the drumsticks together using kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips underneath the neck cavity. Add 1 cup water to the pan.

Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350˚. After about 1½ hours, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and mustard. Brush onto the turkey every 15 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone registers 165˚, about 45 minutes more; add water by the cupful to prevent the pan drippings from burning, and tent the turkey with aluminum foil if browning too quickly. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

If making the turkey gravy, strain the pan juices into a glass measuring cup and reserve along with the pan. Proceed with the recipe.


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Serves 8


1 garlic clove, minced

¼ tsp kosher salt

Juice of ½ lemon

1½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 bunches kale, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise

Freshly ground pepper


On a work surface, sprinkle the minced garlic with the salt. Using the flat side of a knife, press the blade flat against the garlic and salt to rub them together and form a paste. Add to a large serving bowl along with the lemon juice and mustard, stirring to combine. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly so that it emulsifies into the dressing. (If you want to make the dressing a day or two ahead, do all of this in a container with a lid then just shake it well before use.) Add the kale and toss until the leaves are evenly coated with dressing. Season with pepper. Let stand for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spread the almonds in an even layer and toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to darken, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle on top of the kale salad and gently fold to combine.


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Serves 8

5 pounds small russet potatoes, scrubbed

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups whole milk

¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks)

Put the potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, covered, then reduce heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 20 minutes; let cool slightly, then peel, if desired. Using the same pot, combine the milk and butter (or EVOO) and cook over medium heat until combined and warmed through. Add the potatoes back to the pot and fold to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Makes about 3½ cups


Grated zest and juice of 1 navel orange

1 cup packed brown sugar

5 to 8 sprigs thyme

One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed

Kosher salt


Pour the orange juice into a liquid measuring cup and add enough water to make 1 cup liquid. Add the orange juice mixture and brown sugar to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the thyme and cranberries, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens, about 12 minutes. Remove and discard the sprigs of thyme, then stir in the orange zest and a pinch of salt.

Tip: For a spicy kick, season the cranberry sauce to taste with Dijon mustard.


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barett

Serves 8 to 10


Two 16-ounce loaves challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes**

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan

2 small onions, diced (cut into ⅓-inch pieces; about 2 cups)

4 stalks celery, diced (cut into ⅓-inch pieces; about 2 cups)

2 large carrots, diced (cut into ⅓-inch pieces; about 1⅔ cups)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped

5 large eggs

1½ cup turkey stock (see recipe below — or you can substitute low-sodium turkey or chicken broth)

1 cup milk

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted

3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

**Reserve 3 to 4 bread cubes for the Pumpkin Pie with Brown Butter Streusel


Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the bread cubes in an even layer on rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand until crisp and dry.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the liquid released from the mushrooms has cooked off, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until the liquid is evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, add the bread cubes, mushroom mixture and thyme. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, turkey stock, milk, melted butter, mustard, 1 tsp salt, and generous grindings of pepper. Pour over the bread cube mixture and toss to thoroughly combine. Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake until crisp and golden on top, 45 minutes to an hour.


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Makes one 9-inch pie


For the crust

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

Pinch of fine salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

2 Tbsp. ice water, plus more if needed

For the streusel

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup finely ground challah breadcrumbs (from 6 or 7 1-inch cubes, reserved from the stuffing recipe)

6 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the filling

One 30-ounce can canned pumpkin pie mix

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

⅔ cup whole milk

2 large eggs, beaten


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425˚F.

Prepare the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the butter and, using your hands, combine the mixture until it resembles coarse meal with pea-sized bits of butter. Sprinkle the water on top and stir with a fork until it comes together, about 30 seconds; if the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp at a time. (Alternatively, use a food processor to mix together the dry ingredients, then pulse in the butter to combine. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube until the dough just comes together.)

Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the ends of the sheet to gather the dough together and flatten it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the streusel: Using a mini food processor or a coffee grinder, pulse the bread cubes to form breadcrumbs; you will need ½ cup breadcrumbs. In a small pan, melt the butter and cook over medium heat until it is just browned and just stops bubbling, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat, then stir in the brown sugar and breadcrumbs to evenly coat. Stir in the flour until dry and crumbly. Let cool completely.

Prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin pie mix and flour until smooth, then stir in the milk and eggs.

Assemble the pie: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round using a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently and loosely roll the dough onto the rolling pin, then transfer the dough to a 9- to 10-inch pie plate and unroll it, being careful to keep it centered. Gently press into the edges and sides of the dough to fit the pie plate, trimming or folding under and crimping any excess overhang.

Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350˚F and bake until set around the edges and slightly wobbly in the center, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Scatter the streusel evenly on top, covering the pie crust with strips of foil if too dark, then bake until a toothpick inserted just off of center comes out clean, about 15 minutes more. Let cool on a rack at least 2 hours.


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Makes about 5½ cups


Turkey neck and giblets

3 stalks celery, cut into thirds crosswise

3 carrots, cut into thirds crosswise

1 onion, unpeeled and quartered

3 to 4 cloves garlic

12 to 15 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp whole peppercorns (optional)


Prepare the turkey stock: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam from the surface, then lower the heat to low and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, 2½ to 3 hours. Let stand until cool, about 2 hours, then strain. Refrigerate overnight. Remove and discard any fat from the surface before using. (Pour the finished stock into a liquid measuring cup; if less than 5½ cups, stir in enough water to measure the 5½ cups needed to make the stuffing and gravy.)


Recipe by Teri Tsang Barrett

Makes about 3½ cups

Pan drippings from 1 roast turkey

Up to 4 cups low-sodium turkey or chicken broth

¼ cup flour

¼ cup (½ stick) butter

Salt and pepper

Pour the pan drippings into a liquid measuring cup, reserving the roasting pan; discard any solids and skim off any fat. Add enough broth to make 3½ cups liquid.

Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat, add about 1 cup broth and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half. Add the butter, cook until it melts, then sprinkle in the flour and whisk until it forms a paste. Add the pan drippings mixture and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternately, if not using a heavy-duty roasting pan, prepare the gravy in a saucepan by scraping any browned bits into the pan and then adding the 1 cup broth. Reduce by about half, then add the butter and proceed with the recipe. (The thickening time for the gravy may take up to twice as long — about 20 minutes — depending on the size of the saucepan.)

The Grocery List

Fresh Produce

Carrots, 1-pound bag, $.99

Celery, 1 bunch, $1.99

Cranberries, 12-ounce bag, $2.00

Garlic, 1 head, $.89

Kale, 2 bunches, $2.58

Lemon, $.69

Mushrooms, 16-ounce package, $3.49

Onions, 3-pound bag, $1.00

Orange, $.99

Russet potatoes, 5-pound bag, $1.75

Fresh thyme, .25-ounce package, $1.09


Frozen whole turkey, 10 pounds, $11.88


Milk, ½ gallon, $2.29

Eggs, 1 dozen, $1.69

Unsalted butter, 1 pound, $3.00


Challah bread, two 16-ounce packages, $4.69


Sliced almonds, 2.25-ounce bag, $2.49

Brown sugar, 1-pound box, $1.00

Pumpkin Pie Filling, 30-ounce can, $3.39

Flour, 5-pound bag, $2.00


Dijon mustard, 12-ounce bottle, $2.29

Pssst... We’re assuming you have:

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Olive oil

TOTAL: $53.99*

*based on Indianapolis, IN, prices at peapod.com

How to Pull This All Off


Here are some things you can do in advance to make things easier:

• Prepare the turkey stock anytime and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze it.

• Rub butter/salt paste on turkey the day before.

• Dry out the breadcrumbs the day before and store in an airtight container.

• Make the cranberry sauce a day or two before and refrigerate it, or freeze it.

• Make the pie the day before and store covered at room temperature. Or make the pie crust and freeze it. You can even press it into the pan and freeze the whole pie pan.

• Wash, dry, and slice kale a day before, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

• Make salad dressing and store in an airtight container in the fridge up to three days in advance.

• Toast almonds and store in an airtight container up to a week in advance.

• Combine ingredients for turkey glaze and store in an airtight container in the fridge the day before.

• Chop and measure out all the carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms the day before and store in airtight containers labeled by which recipe they will be used for.

Remember, also!

• Reserve a few bread cubes of challah bread from the stuffing for the pie.

• You'll need to use the turkey stock in both the stuffing and in the gravy.

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